Oxfam: 26 richest own same as poorest half of humanity

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AFP DAVOS, Switzerland (AFP-Jiji) — The world’s 26 richest people now own the same wealth as the poorest half of humanity, Oxfam said Monday, warning that “out of control” inequality is stoking popular anger and threatening democracies.

“We are seeing rich people running away with wealth and poor people sinking in poverty,” Oxfam executive director Winnie Byanyima told AFP in an interview.

A new report from the charity was published ahead of the World Economic Forum in Davos — a weeklong meeting of the global elite, with three of the 26 richest people set to attend.

The report found that billionaires around the world saw their combined fortunes grow by $2.5 billion each day in 2018, an annual increase of 12 percent, and urged governments to slap more taxes on the wealthy.

The world’s richest man, Amazon Chief Executive Officer Jeff Bezos, saw his fortune increase to $112 billion last year, Oxfam said, pointing out that just 1 percent of his wealth was the equivalent to the entire health budget of Ethiopia, a country of 105 million people.

“Oxfam is saying in this report with evidence that extreme inequality is out of control,” Byanyima said.

The 3.8 billion people at the bottom of the scale meanwhile saw their relative wealth decline by $500 million each day, or 11 percent last year, Oxfam said, stressing that the growing gap between rich and poor was undermining the fight against poverty, damaging economies and fuelling public anger.

“Citizens are angry and frustrated,” Byanyima said.

“They are seeing themselves working really hard, but they are seeing that … the things that they expect, a good education for their children, health when they fall ill, social protection when they get older … aren’t there for them.”Speech

 

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